The Uffizi Gallery (Italian: Galleria degli Uffizi) is an art
museum in Italy. It is located in Florence, and is one of the oldest and most
famous art museums in the world.
The building of Uffizi was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de'
Medici so as to accommodate the offices of the Florentine magistrates, hence the
name uffizi, "offices". The construction was later continued by Alfonso Parigi and
Bernardo Buontalenti and completed in 1581. The cortile (internal courtyard) is so
long and narrow, and open to the Arno at its far end through a Doric screen that
articulates the space without blocking it, that architectural historians treat it
as the first regularized streetscape of Europe. Vasari, a painter and architect as
well, emphasised its perspective length by the matching facades' continuous roof
cornices, and unbroken cornices between storeys and the three continuous steps on
which the palace-fronts stand. The niches in the piers that alternate with columns
filled with sculptures of famous artists in the XIX century.
The Uffizi brought together under one roof the administrative offices, the
Tribunal and the Archivio di Stato, the state archive. The project that was planned
by Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany to arrange prime works of art in the
Medici collections on the piano nobile was effected by Francis I of Tuscany, who
commissioned Buontalenti the famous Tribuna degli Uffizi that united a selection of
the outstanding masterpieces in the collection in an ensemble that was a star
attraction of the Grand Tour.
Over the years, further parts of the palace evolved into a display place for
many of the paintings and sculpture collected by the House of Medici or
commissioned by them. According to Vasari, who was not only the architect of the
Uffizi but also the author of Lives of the Artists, published in 1550 and 1568,
artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo gathered at the Uffizi "for
beauty, for work and for recreation."
After the house of Medici was extinguished, the art treasures remained in
Florence by terms of the famous Patto di famiglia negotiated by Anna Maria Luisa,
the last Medici heiress; it formed one of the first modern museums. The gallery had
been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it was
officially opened to the public.
Because of its huge collection, some of its works have in the past been
transferred to other museums in Florence - for example, some famous statues to the
Bargello. A project is currently underway to expand the museum's exhibition space
in 2006 from some 6,000 metres² (64,000 ft²) to almost 13,000 metres² (139,000
ft²), allowing public viewing of many artworks that have usually been in
In 1993, a car bomb exploded in Via dei Georgofili and damaged parts of the
palace, killing five people. The most severe damage was to the Niobe room and
classical sculptures and neoclassical interior of which have been restored,
although its frescoes were damaged beyond repair. The identity of the bomber or
bombers are unknown, although it was almost certainly attributable to the Sicilian
Mafia who were engaged in a period of terrorism at that time.
Today, the Uffizi is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence. In
high season (particularly in July), waiting times can be up to five hours.
In early August 2007, Florence was caught with a large rainstorm, and the
Gallery was partially flooded, with water leaking through the ceiling, and the
visitors had to be evacuated. There was a much more significant flood in 1966 which
damaged most of the art collections in Florence severely, including the Uffizi.